For those of us who can clearly remember beauty products before the start of the millennium, argan oil still has that new, buzzword feel. Not a particularly well-known ingredient before the turn of the century, the Moroccan botanical import has become ubiquitous in the beauty industry, playing both starring and supporting roles in skin care, hair care, and even makeup. And for good reason.
"It is found in skin care and hair products [because it] has many benefits," according to Stacy Chimento, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, who says that argan oil is a boon for very dry skin. "Pure argan oil is great for patches of skin affected by psoriasis. You can also use argan oil alone or with your favorite face cream." Furthermore, she recommends using argan oil to seal in the moisture of any conditioning product you've put on your hair.
But these are just a few of the reasons argan oil has become a highly recommended and seemingly omnipresent ingredient. We chatted with dermatologists and a cosmetic chemist to get a better understanding of why argan oil earned its transition from trendy new ingredient to skin-care and hair-care staple.
What exactly is argan oil?
Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree's fruit, which are often peeled by Moroccan women working in cooperatives. "Fairtrade, sustainably produced argan oil is from argan fruits picked from the ground, which helps prevent overharvesting and the threat of deforestation," explains cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants Krupa Koestline.
It's worth noting that, in recent years, there has been concern over how the demand for argan oil has led to instances of "aggressive harvesting." "Some people whack the trees with sticks to get the fruit to fall from the trees faster, and that's not good for the trees," Nicholas Magnan, Ph.D., an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia, previously told Allure.
What are the benefits of argan oil in skin care and hair care?
Got a few minutes? Because argan oil has an impressively long list of perks, thanks to its natural makeup. "Argan oil is unique in its composition, offering high amounts of oleic and linoleic acids, which makes it extremely rich and moisturizing," explains Koestline. Those acids are one of the main reasons argan oil is found in so many products.